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Sandra E Trehub and Laurel J Trainor (1990)

Rules for listening in infancy

In: The development of attention: Research and theory, ed. by James T. Enns. Elsevier Science Publishers B.V, North-Holland, chap. 5, pp. 87-119.

In the present review, we outline a set of principles governing infants' deployment of attention to auditory events. Infants initially look in the direction of sounding objects, later reaching for the objects. They find some sound qualities highly salient, such as female voices in general and the mother's voice in particular. Infants selectively attend to the pitch contours and rhythms of animated speech and musical sequences. They encode finer details of some musical sequences, notably those typical of their culture. Moreover, simplicity or familiarity of the sequences and greater maturity of the infant lead to more comprehensive auditory processing. Finally, we identify a number of parallels between infants' processing of speech and music, and propose directions for future research.